Celebration of service; Kathy Stutzman receives prestigious Rotary award
Published 10:08 am Tuesday, April 5, 2016
An Austin woman was recognized for years of service with one of Rotary International’s highest awards.
Austin Rotarian Kathy Stutzman was recognized Monday afternoon for receiving Rotary’s Service Above Self Award. The award recognizes Rotarians for continued humanitarian service, especially in those who help others through Rotary, and is given to no more than 150 Rotary members each year across the world.
“It’s one of the most prestigious awards in Rotary,” Rotary District Governor Marlene Gargulak said.
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After receiving nominations from clubs, Gargulak nominated Stutzman for the award and joked that she could barely fit all of Stutzman’s accomplishments on the one page application for the award, adding she had to use a small font.
“Kathy Stutzman is a world citizen, passionate about creatively connecting people around the globe,” Gargulak wrote in the application, which she read from Monday.
Stutzman has an extensive resume of service around the globe, including work through Fast for Hope in Nicaragua and Street Girls Aid in Ghana. Along with traveling extensively to volunteer on other projects and serve as a Group Study Exchange coordinator, she’s also worked with many groups and nonprofits at home.
She’s also published three books: “Stories From the Streets,” “Up and Over: Boost Your Confidence When There is None to Be Found” and “One Hundred Days of Giving,” along with the ebook “From the Eye of the Hurricane.”
Joe Kovarick, a past Rotary district governor, said the Rotary’s international theme for this year, “be a gift to the world,” certainly applies to Stutzman.
He praised Stutzman as having a gift for making people laugh and smile.
“Thank you for being a gift to Rotary,” he said.
Newell Krogmann, a past district governor and Rotary Foundation Zone coordinator, praised Stutzman for bringing three key traits: dedication, energy and creativity.
He recalled getting emails at 2 or 3 a.m. from Stutzman about projects.
“She’s always doing something, so a lot of energy was always involved,” he said.
Krogmann said Stutzman almost always includes a team in her projects, and he praised her as someone who keeps her focus, which helps get more accomplished.
Stutzman joked Monday felt a little like a roast, but she added that many people undertake amazing work, so she’d love to see people come together to share good things about one another.
“Oh my gosh, we need to be doing this more,” Stutzman said.
Despite receiving much praise, Stutzman credited her fellow Rotary members for supporting and contributing the projects she’s undertaken.
“I could tell stories about how every single person here in this room impacted and got us to this point today or me receiving this award,” she said.
She said everyone in Rotary helped support her by saying something simple: “Yes, I believe in you.”
Over the last 25 years, Stutzman said she’s probably traveled about a year in time. But she praised the important role over everyone who helped in some small way.
“I’m just a conduit, a facilitator, a connector who’s really been fortunate to have four different passports that I get to travel and do all those things, but I’m always representing you — all of you,” Stutzman said.
Looking at some of her favorite service memories, Stutzman recalled returning with a group to Ghana last August for the launch of the book, “Stories from the Streets,” which collected and shared stories from street children served by Street Girls Aid in Ghana. Stutzman returned for an event where the women interviewed in the book come together to provide a mentoring workshop for girls currently living on the streets.
“What an imploring, amazing experience,” Stutzman said. “And I had nothing to do with it. All I got to do was witness it and see this amazing confidence and this amazing skill development.”
While the international service often requires local community engagement, Stutzman said she’s excited to a part of the community and work to develop community efforts here at home. Stutzman also remains involved with for Fast for Hope efforts in Nicaragua and Street Girls Aid in Ghana.
“I’m really open to what’s going to what’s going to happen next,” she said. “I’m also really anxious and excited to be involved in community service.”